Ladies, If You SMILE At A Man – Don’t Get MAD When He Approaches You

I use to think this was a woman's way of letting a man know she's interested - apparently I am sadly mistaken

Growing up in a very traditional West Indian home, I was raised to believe that it was a man’s DUTY to approach a woman for a date. The shared responsibilities in this interaction between a man and a woman were two-fold as per traditional social-rules: It’s the man’s job to accurately determine whether that woman wanted to be bothered by him, and it was her job to clearly define her level of interest through her overt body language [and sometimes verbally too]. This was the unwritten, yet socially accepted form of dating as I was growing up [although I wish women had a lot more OVARIES to walk up and approach men, but I will get to that later], but it appears even THAT simple interaction is no longer a given. Enter, my homegirl Fiana.

Fiana of Approach2link is the brains behind an event called The Conversation Party (happening this Sunday) in which grown men and women discuss different relationship issues – and the topic for this event is “Just Because I Smiled At You Doesn’t Mean I Want To Get With You” [Which I couldn’t disagree with anymore] but here is her rationale: Women should be free to smile all day long and at whomever they feel, but that should not incite men to try and approach her just because they shared a smile.

Well here’s my question to that: What in the hell are we SUPPOSE to use as approachable-indicators if SMILING, the most basic form of human warmth and social invitation to conversation, is OFF the table?

And here’s my own answer to my own question: NOTHING. Which means the dating-dichotomy will have to inherently change and women will have to start doing the one thing y’all are SCARED-SH*TLESS to do: Approaching men yourselves.

See, if women want to create further boundaries to make it even MORE difficult for a man to know when to approach, then the easy solution to that is putting EQUAL onus on WOMEN to approach men – but you KNOW you don’t want that. Y’all want all the positive without the negative, all the benefits without the harm, and all the multiple orgasms without dude’s sweat in your eye. To illustrate my point, let me tell y’all about a funny story that happened to one of my homegirls this week [let’s call her Andrea]:

Andrea saw some handsome dude Sunday night downtown, but she was too scared to approach him and he bounced out of her life. She texted me right after and I called her SOFT for not having the heart to holla at the dude. Two days later I received a call from her late night, all excited talking ’bout “I found him! I’m following him into this bar and I’m gonna muster up the strength to talk to him!” After giving her a quick pep talk, she finally built the courage to approach him – and she actually ended up getting his name and number. She text messaged him the next day – and never heard back from him, essentially making her feel like a DUMBASS. Now Andrea will NEVER approach another man EVER in her life, and she’s gonna do EXACTLY what MOST women already do: Just give men slight non-verbal indicators that they are OPEN to be approached – and as far as us men are concerned, SMILING is the number ONE sign you’re interested.

Now I'm confused - does she WANT me to holla - or is she just remembering a joke from Kevin Hart's special?

So ladies, here’s the deal: If you don’t want to be approached, then the onus is on YOU to not SMILE at the frowsy dude at the party or bus stop who you DON’T want to come and holla at you. Until the magical day comes when women have enough FORTITUDE to chop men, you will have to deal with learning how to accurately control your body language.

Don't wanna be approached? Don't look like it

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.


  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    07/13/2012 at 4:53 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, Do You Believe Men Need To Step Their Games Up In Knowing When Women WANT To Be Approached Or Do You Think Women Need To Learn How To Communicate Non-Verbally A LOT Better?

    • Chabie

      07/14/2012 at 9:01 PM

      I think the last line was correct: don't want to be approached, then don't look like it. Wise women efficient about their time (like me) already do this, 'cause brothers WILL act. But what's 'looking like it'? Smiling? As you said, its the universal sign–not a specific expression relegated to mating behavior, idiots. Chill. You'd have better luck in your efforts if you tried to MAKE a woman smile, rather than looking for a random one already in effect. There are millions of reasons women are seen smiling around men, but unless the smile STARTED once she looked at you (and eye contact, open posture, hair twirling/whatever should go along WITH that), don't make assumptions unless she's bootying down the dance floor with whomever; you know know her–just a smiley person, something funny on her mind, something someone did or said, etc. Geez, you make a sister afraid to smile @ a brother (some already are … for your reasons, or because so many brothers get the big-head with any attention at all). As it is, a lot of us can walk around NOT smiling and some dudes still try lol; how do you explain them? I think men approach women whether they're smiling or not if THEY are interested–and often they are not thinking of the woman, but themselves; its a turn-off if bro can't read the signals at that level, then get pissed when they're brushed off. The fact is, men don't have a lot to go on, its true, and that's the risk. You wanna be a man, man-up! Instead, some go on their imaginations when they see you smiling TOWARD them ("is that for meeee?"), and are sometimes wrong, that's all. Doesn't have to be a "thing" to blog about. Smiling is attractive in general, makes one SEEM approachable, safe, not hot-n-horny, unless she's licking her lips at you. So maybe men are not adept enough at reading this? They say kids and the cognitively disabled are bad at reading facial expressions beyond happy, sad, angry, or scared. Brush up, get more sophisticated, otherwise it may just be your own male, dumb-ass surface analysis (say, at a party or comedy show, in church, at work. It really does depend on the social context, the type of smile, THE NONVERBALS that go along WITH it, and whether something else goes wrong before you get over to her–like your pants fit crazy, you have a gut standing, crouch grab, you have a funny walk, or she just changed her mind about you in 5 seconds after you walked out of the shadows by the bar, etc.–a lot can turn a smile upside down in an instant, since we ARE talking surface stuff. Hey, dating is just risky … don't blame something this innocent. For example, I was at a social event and–because it was a positive atmosphere, a brother told a joke near me and I smiled, even giggled, looking at him. He approached me later for a date and I said no … I just thought the shit was funny, that's all. In another case, I watched a hot guy for over an hour and the minute he looked at me, I smiled, but he just smiled back and kept walking. Goes both ways!

  2. OcBlackGurl

    07/13/2012 at 6:22 AM

    This is sooooo true!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 2:50 PM

      Thanks For Reading & Commenting

  3. petersburgh

    07/13/2012 at 6:29 AM

    I think it's a two pronged approach. Yes, men need to step up because the few that step to women saying things like "I want to dig out your belly" makes it difficult for a real man to come to minutes later and say hi I… as she dismisses him before he even starts. (true story). On the other hand I do think that women must be careful who they smile with. Some women have beautiful smiles and even if you don't want to date them, that smile can be so infectious you just want to say hello. The truth is there are two major things a woman can non-verbally communicate to let a guy know he can holla. Mime the "come over" or smile and I guess that miming suggests that they approached first so that's off the table in most women's books. It's really tough for women though guys. If she smiles too much, many will approach and more than likely undesirables will be there, if she frowns or at least wears no smile she's stuck up. It's tough ladies I know and I don't pretend to have all the answers but one will be to grow a pair of something and go say hi

    • mena

      07/13/2012 at 9:33 AM

      There is so much truth in your statement. It's hard b/c i have heard some men say that they do not want a woman to approach them since we would then be taking away their manly duties and other guys have said that they want women to approach them. Even though i agree with what Lincoln was saying I also agree with what @approach2link was saying as well. Men, please approach me. I smile a lot but understand that through my body language, and not just my smile, you will know if i am interested or not. Some men are just overly aggressive and it becomes too uncomfortable and makes it harder for the next guy that approaches. Some women don't smile b/c of past experiences where smiling caused unwanted and unnecessary attention.

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        07/13/2012 at 2:53 PM

        I Love How Women Reference The Small Percentage Of Idiots Who Say That "Manly" BS As Their Rationalization For Not Approaching Men..

        That's Not Even CLOSE To Being The Majority. Hell More People Believe Wrestling Is REAL And Obama Is Kenyan

        • mena

          07/13/2012 at 4:14 PM

          Hey…it's been said enough for me to not approach. If we are at a party and at the punch bowl together, I may strike up a conversation but for me to actually walk across the room and approach you…not happening :-)

          Bottom line, in my eyes, a man should approach. My smile, body language, and eye contact will let you know that you can approach.

          • lincolnanthonyblades

            07/13/2012 at 5:44 PM

            No You Mean Everything BUT Your Smile As Of Now, Right?

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 2:52 PM

      That's Why Apple Invented The iPod! She can now make the "i'm too interested in my music to have a convo with anyone!" Face!

  4. Fiana

    07/13/2012 at 8:38 AM

    What’s funny about this article is that I agree with you. Smiling does indicate your interested but I don’t think that you should refuse smiling at the man you are not interested in. Which is what I was trying to imply and as a solution to women who are not smiling because they are afraid to. Also I don’t think a man should avoid approaching the lady because he is not sure if he wants to get with him. I recommended that he does approach her still and through conversation he then gauge whether or not she is interested and whether he even wants to continue pursuing her. She may have a nice smile but after talking to her you realize the smile is not enough. I noticed that you didn’t include the flip side that I spoke about which is not every guy who approaches is interested in the women. What are your thoughts on that?

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 2:54 PM

      Dating Is A Numbers Game And Men Gotta Approach As Much As They Need Too…Just As Long As They Do It Respectfully

  5. J. Crawford

    07/13/2012 at 8:57 AM

    This post is spot-on. Add this to the "just because I'm dressed in a Tight Skirt, 6 inch Heels, and Tee so tight my Breasts and nipples are Imprinted DOES NOT make me a Hooker/Hoe", but let a Guy wear a Cap backwards, Tims/Jordans, Jeans or Shorts, a chain/watch and what not SAYS I'm a Gangbanger or Dope Boy.

    I assumed a Smile said a Woman was "showing interest", but this is New to me

    • @approach2link

      07/13/2012 at 9:10 AM

      Hey this is Fiana who he reference ;). A smile does she interest and does encourage a man to approach her. I want a man to approach me when I smile at him but also don't want to be afraid to smile at someone who I am not interested in either. They deserve a smile too. I would want him to approach me and realize through conversation whether or not i'm interested.

      • mena

        07/13/2012 at 9:28 AM

        I get what you are saying. In general, read body language. A lot of people aren't good at reading facial ques or body language. You are speaking to the men who are overly aggressive and I do believe that EVERY woman has dealt with the overly aggressive guy. After a point it becomes not only uncomfortable but can get to the point where you just want to up and leave the situation all together.

        • lincolnanthonyblades

          07/13/2012 at 2:56 PM

          But Why Waste Each Other's Time Is My Point?

          • mena

            07/13/2012 at 4:08 PM

            This doesn't make sense to what i wrote? I'm confused.

          • lincolnanthonyblades

            07/13/2012 at 5:45 PM

            I Meant To Reply To Fiana, My Bad..

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        07/13/2012 at 2:56 PM

        They DO Deserve A Smile – Just NOT From YOU!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 2:55 PM

      That's What I Assumed Too!

  6. MistaHarsh

    07/13/2012 at 9:46 AM

    …..I agree that if women don't want to be approached off of a simple smile they must start to approach guy who they are interested in. But there's another side of me that hates women who purposefully refuse to acknowledge men if they pass each other in the street or hallway. Sometimes women don't even make eye contact in fear that the man will pounce on them for giving them a "sign". Women we're not all thirsty barbarians. All I wanted was to say "hello" "good morning/afternoon" and keep it moving. I would have said the same damn thing if it was a man that I passed on the street, its simply a respect thing. I find this attitude very rude and presumptuous and I'm sad to say I find it happens most amongst my race of women.

    • mena

      07/13/2012 at 9:57 AM

      We do this b/c of past experiences. We are really stuck b/w a rock and a hard place with the smiling.

      • MistaHarsh

        07/13/2012 at 11:03 AM

        I agree with you but the men have it way worse because through all of the shade you women give we still are EXPECTED to approach you so we have to muster up the courage to cut through the bs just in order to talk to you. Its exhausting and its part of the reason why some men are so aggressive because if not you wouldn't even acknowledge us and find out that we are who you want.

        • mena

          07/13/2012 at 11:16 AM

          I see your point. It's hard for both sexes. I won't approach a guy since i know that men need to find a woman physically attractive to even suggest a date so i feel that if a man finds me attractive, he will approach. But then again, closed mouths don't get fed. Oh well.

        • lincolnanthonyblades

          07/13/2012 at 3:00 PM

          You Know What's Funny Too: Women Who Will NEVER Approach A Man Are The First Ones To Call Us PUSSY Because We Are Hesitant In Approaching Women. SMH

          • petersburgh

            07/13/2012 at 5:16 PM

            Co-sign 100%

          • Vicky

            07/13/2012 at 5:59 PM

            Co-sign x2!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 2:59 PM

      Yup. I Had A Convo With A Girl Many Years Ago And I Was Asking Why Black Men Give "The Nod" To Each Other, But Black Men And Black Women Don't Give That "Nod" To Each Other. She Simply Stated Women Don't Wanna Get Chopped And The Fact Is, I Can't Blame Them.

  7. Vicky

    07/13/2012 at 10:30 AM

    You smile, you're interested. You are straight faced, you're a bitch. We can't win can we!

    • MistaHarsh

      07/13/2012 at 11:06 AM

      not true. If you give me your number you're interested. If you smile you are friendly and at the very least respectfully. Simply smile and keep it moving. But how can you hate a man for striking conversation? Why wouldn't a man want to get to know a friendly respectful woman?

      • NurseJilly

        07/13/2012 at 11:50 AM

        I'm with you on this one. I smile @ everyone and if I make eye contact with someone passing on the street I usually say good morning or hello. I get approached by the occasional nut but all in all I'm a friendly person and it makes me feel good to spread a little sunshine. Too many people walk around miserable, I refuse to be one of those people.

        • MistaHarsh

          07/13/2012 at 3:15 PM


      • Vicky

        07/13/2012 at 1:00 PM

        No hate, and I get that men would want to get to know a respectful woman, but at the same time, because I smiled, it didn't mean I was interested. It's all in the approach I guess. Don't throw you a lame line and expect us to wet our panties. LOL

        • lincolnanthonyblades

          07/13/2012 at 3:07 PM

          Women Inherently Have Zero Game. So There's Women Out There Who RELY On The Smile As Her Sign of Being Interested And When I Guy Ignores It, She Will Start Questioning His Sexuality And All Kinds Of Madness.

        • MistaHarsh

          07/13/2012 at 3:19 PM


          the thing is you ladies even take this attitude to work and you won't smile or make eye contact at the brother walking by the office because you think he wants your number. Sometimes I make it a point to forcefully say "good afternoon" and walk away just for the mindfcuk that it gives these women. No lie

          • Vicky

            07/13/2012 at 4:02 PM

            I'm not that woman, maybe this is why I cannot wrap my head around it. I'm the type who smiles to (almost) everyone, make eye contact and actually say good morning or hello.

            I see those women you are describing, more than half the time they are walking around thinking everyone wants them or they think they are too good for others. So when they actually smile, you think "holy sh*t, she actually has teeth"

          • petersburgh

            07/13/2012 at 5:21 PM

            When I was at university I walked up to a girl and said "Hi, you look really nice". The girl looked at me harsh so I had to say afterwards " I don't want you, I am just complimenting you". From that day I'm very careful who I compliment

          • Chabie

            07/14/2012 at 9:16 PM

            I live in Seattle where "mixed doubles" is the thing, and noticeably fewer blacks dating EACH OTHER. I've actually seen brothers coming up the sidewalk, spot a sister, and cross the street to avoid the awkwardness of black interaction; or they would instantly find something to distract their eye at the moment of passing. Not because they are so hot too many sisters hit on them, but because they don't know HOW to acknowledge black women (and men, happens on both sides here). A lot of blacks here from other places (I'm from Florida) are thrown off by it, then discouraged, then either accept it or defy it–like me. I used to be hurt when a brother couldn't even say hi in the post office line; there's this thing about race not meaning anything in Seattle, but its a lie, or they'd speak to their own people, too (just like the blacks who say they inter-racial date because they're 'color-blind'–if that's the case, there should be variety in your dating pool, not just fat white chicks lol). Anyway, the defiance: I speak to every black person I know, male or female, as a courtesy of being human; I get a response back 50% of the time, and will continue to do it, because it makes me feel good. I no longer take it personally.

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        07/13/2012 at 3:05 PM

        Real Talk.

    • 2cool4school

      07/13/2012 at 12:22 PM

      I thought the same thing. I smile because Im blessed not because Im flirting. If the same logic applies should I stop smiling when Im married lol. I think that smiling is a start but there are other non-verbal cues like sustained eye-contact. For some of these Jerome's in the house type dudes the eyelash that just fell in my eye = me winking at them. In regards to approaching men there is a science to it because you can initiate to make yourself be seen but I wouldn't recommend asking for numbers or asking to meet up again. I mean you can but be prepared to pay for the date, ask his mother for his hand in marriage, and propose on bended knee

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 3:03 PM

      You Smile At Someone You Like, You're Interested And He Walks Over To You And Does All The Work With The Onus Of Impressing YOU Completely On HIM.

      You Are Straight-Faced You Are Called A Bitch By A GUy You DON'T Give A Damn About And Wouldn't Give A Second Of Attention To Under ANY Circumstance.

      How Is That NOT A Win-Win?!

      • Vicky

        07/13/2012 at 3:18 PM

        Fair enough but assumption of a smile = interests is not always the case. Some people just smile all the time….who knows, maybe they are high and have a perm-a-grin or they got some good d*ck or they are spiritual and believe a smile is positive energy and blocks out the negative….whatever the case may be, a smile alone will not determine if the woman is interested. We are not simple creatures!

        • lincolnanthonyblades

          07/13/2012 at 3:31 PM

          But Do You See The Slippery Slope We Are On Now?

          If We Are Gonna Eliminate Smiling Then Fine. But Tomorrow There's Gonna Be A Group Of Women Who Say "Prolonged Eye Contact Doesn't Mean I Want To Get With You! Maybe I Just Feel Like Staring In Your Direction!"

          And Then it Will Be: "Just Because We Danced At A Nightclub All Night And I Was Rubbing My Ass Against Your Erection Until You Damn Near Came Doesn't Mean I'm Interested In You! I Just Like To Dance! Stop SWEATIN' Me!"

          • Vicky

            07/13/2012 at 3:58 PM

            I can understand a smile, followed by a prolonged stare is a green light!

            But Lincoln, in all honesty, someone like myself….happily married and not looking for anything else. I smile because too many people are miserable in the city. Has it really come down to a woman smiles and she wants a piece of that?

            I get it, women and men have their ways to attract the opposite sex so it's hard to keep up with what's a green and/or what's a red light because there are too many characters out there. Never did I think I was approached by a man solely cause I smiled without something extra that says "Hey, you're cute!" kind of thing

        • 2cool4school

          07/13/2012 at 5:26 PM

          Vitamin D will have you busting out the Kool Aid smile

          • Vicky

            07/13/2012 at 5:56 PM

            *in the best Kool Aid voice* OH YEAH!!!!!

      • Chabie

        07/14/2012 at 9:18 PM

        Onus is not on him if you think its hot; then you want to impress, glad he walked ova!

  8. Candice

    07/13/2012 at 10:49 AM

    I kind of agree with Lincoln, if I want someone to approach I'll smile at them. I don't usually go around smiling at random men. Most of the fools that say some off coloured remark that approach me, I not smiling at them and they STILL come up to me. So I don't know how to explain that. On this blog, Lincoln encourages women to approach men but I hear some guys say they don't like it. I guess I should take a chance and do it and if he's not crazy about it, don't worry about him.

    • MistaHarsh

      07/13/2012 at 11:48 AM

      "I guess I should take a chance and do it and if he's not crazy about it, don't worry about him."

      Yes you should. Also do you know men contemplate that same concern every time we see a woman who we'd like to know? Do you also know men have bounced back from Rejections of the 3rd Kind from frowsy women and still get back in the game and continue to approach them?

      • Candice

        07/13/2012 at 12:51 PM

        Very true MistaHarsh :)

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 3:10 PM

      Don't Listen To The Very Few Immature And Ignorant Men Who Say They DON'T Want To Be Approached…Most Men Like It.

  9. cynicaloptmst81

    07/13/2012 at 11:22 AM

    First, that chicks eyebrows in that last picture are FIERCE! Woo chile!

    Second, I'm with Linc. I only smile at men I don't know personally if his decision to approach me wouldn't offend me. Smiling is def my way of saying, "yes, I think you're handsome"…but it does not necessarily mean, "yes, I'm available".

    • mena

      07/13/2012 at 1:05 PM

      Anytime someone uses the term fierce, it makes me smile.

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      07/13/2012 at 3:11 PM

      I Can Live With That!

  10. dimmabl

    07/13/2012 at 3:39 PM

    . . . I don't think something as simple as a smile means you are interested. I smile at people in lieu of speaking, but it is just a polite way of acknowledging others around me, like saying "Good morning," or "What's up". I hate that I live in a city where people will make eye contact and not speak, I find it rude. I think it takes more than a polite smile to give encouragement. Eye contact and the kind of smile is very important. I have learned to turn down the level of my smile with strange men if I want to keep it moving, full watt smile is too much. I think most people should know what a polite smile is. If you're a woman and all you have to attract men you're interested in is a polite smile maybe you should work on increasing your facial expression repertoire. I saw something somewhere where interest was determined by a multitude of looks, like if a woman smiles at you you smile back and look away and if when you look back she is giving you eye contact and still grinning that is a green light.

  11. Adonis

    07/14/2012 at 1:33 PM

    Thank You Lincoln… I feel the same way when women b1tch & moan about "harrassment"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *